Phantogram - Voices  - Cover- 2014


01. Nothing But Trouble
02. Black Out Days
03. Fall in Love
04. Never Going Home
05. The Day You Died
06. Howling at the Moon
07. Bad Dreams
08. Bill Murray
09. I Don’t Blame You
10. Celebrating Nothing
11. My Only Friend






There is no doubt that the boy/girl band has made a serious comeback in recent years. The indie music scene is sprinkled with the lo-fi roar of THE KILLS, to the slightly schizophrenic CRYSTAL CASTLES, to the sugary summer tunes of BEST COAST, and on and on… Yet within this boy-girl-duo renaissance, the Greenwich, NY based PHANTOGRAM, comprised of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, have found a way to stand out in the crowd. Maybe it’s their natural ability to combine the lo-fi grumble, the skitzyness and the sugary sweet that has brought them to the top. Whatever it is, their recently released album, Voices, has confirmed that the duo have got what it takes.

Since their humble beginnings in Saratoga Springs, New York, Barthel and Carter have since then collaborated extensively with artists like Big Boi, and have had numerous singles featured in television shows and films. PHANTOGRAM have managed to withstand the test of time, developing a unique sound that contains a mixture of hip-hop, pop rock, and shoegaze that carries with it an exploration of complex emotions.

With the release of PHANTOGRAM‘s second full-length album Voices, all eyes are now on the dynamic duo. While the album makes reference to their debut full-length album, Eyelid Movies, complete with dreamy vocals and the band’s signature mix of sounds, their latest stands up with a bit more confidence. Producer John Hill (M.I.A, SANTIGOLD) teamed up with Carter on the album’s production, resulting in a sophomore release that is diverse in its musical movements, but also noticeably stronger.

The opening track Nothing But Trouble comes on with a bang. Barthel sweetly and almost eerily warns us to stay away, over shredding guitar riffs. Voices strikes a nice balance between their more hip-hop heavy tunes, with some more mellow tracks that focus on Carter’s guitar skills and Barthel’s dreamy vocals. The track Bill Murray, heavy and ethereal, would be the perfect soundtrack to a slowmotion breakup scene. It is in between the soul samples, thick beats and dreamy riffs, where we find an element of darkness found within the lyrics. Love is a car crash and death is around every corner.

Voice‘s closing track, and one of the best tunes, My Only Friend, builds slowly from Barthel whispering, ‘I have all the stars with you/ as long as you’re alright/ I will know to die’. The song takes on the shape of an 80’s ballad, underlying heavy beats and a mourning piano that perfectly accompany this dance floor sadness. Coming full circle, Voices closes with Barthel’s returning to her first words… ‘You’re all I have/ my only friend/ all the stars with you.’

PHANTOGRAM is still good for music to move your feet, but ‘Voices’ is proof that the group is ready to take it to the next level.

NBHAP Rating: 4/5